The Empire Strips Back in America
Tuesday, 25 June 2019
robe-empire-strips-back-dsc02887-p-photo-peter-rubieThe North America run concluded on Broadway in May
USA - Australian burlesque Star Wars parody The Empire Strips Back has just completed its most extensive North American tour to date, also visiting Canada for the first time, complete with a suitably boisterous lightshow designed by Peter Rubie, featuring 30 Robe Spiider LED wash beams as the core moving light fixtures.
The show has delighted audiences since it launched at the Vanguard Theatre in Sydney in 2011.
Peter has been involved with the show for the last four years, taking over from original lighting designer Ross Graham. Since then, it has evolved into the performance spectacle it is today including new acts and songs, and in 2018, a complete refresh of the lighting rig.
It was at this stage that Peter decided to replace the previous LED wash lights with Robe’s latest generation Spiider - a fixture known for its power, smooth colour mixing and fantastic range of hues.
Peter wanted Spiiders in the rig to help add some of the theatrical detail needed - in addition to all the big beamy rock ‘n’ roll style colour and movement cues. They are positioned on a 5 high by 6 wide staggered grid above the stage which also has a wall effect from the front, a powerful look that Ross created when the show first started touring.
“The Spiider has a beautiful quality of light at the right brightness,” he comments, adding that while they can do all the rich bold saturates that are fundamental to the primary style and vibe of the show, they can also produce all the pastel shades and subtleties needed.
Upgrading from the previous single-angle LED wash light to the Spiiders also opened up a range of other possibilities whilst still being able to reproduce the original looks “minus the LED ‘smarties’” by turning off the outer ring of LEDs and zooming right down to a 4° beam.
The biggest challenge with lighting the show was covering the diversity and dynamics of the performance and getting the sheer amount of looks required to light and the different characters and scenes in a rapidly moving show.
In the US, the lighting equipment was supplied by Felix Lighting. “They have been a dream to deal with,” states Peter, “from helping us choose the right supporting power systems and cabling in unfamiliar territories to running to our aid whenever we had a problem and having consistency and support on the tour across all of the states has been very comforting.” In Australia, the lighting vendor was Chameleon. The North America run concluded on Broadway in May.
(Jim Evans)

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